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IBM to offer software for new AMD chip

Big Blue gears up its DB2 version 8 for Linux operating systems to allow companies to tap the database software for upcoming Opteron servers.

IBM will offer a version of its popular database software for Advanced Micro Devices' forthcoming next-generation processor for workstations and servers.

IBM will offer a new flavor of its DB2 version 8 for Linux operating systems that will allow companies to run the database software on multiprocessor Opteron servers in the future.

The Opteron chip promises greater clock speed and performance, but its most recognized feature will be 64-bit addressing. This will allow the chip to boost performance for databases and other high-end business applications, such as mechanical design.

Software is a critical part of AMD's efforts to build a launching pad for the chip, which goes on sale next year. So far, AMD has sought support from software makers who write operating systems and applications for workstations and servers. The company has been working with a wide range of software makers, including Microsoft and a host of Linux vendors.

"It's very important to have a database application, particularly for a processor that's able to run 64-bit applications natively. That's probably one of the strongest selling points about the Opteron processor. With that extra processing capability and the ability to address more memory, database applications should take a jump to a new level of performance," said Mark Tellez, manager for market development for servers and workstations at AMD.

Opteron uses a new technology called x86-64, which AMD created by adding several new instructions to the current x86 processor architecture that extend it to address 64 bits of data. Current AMD Athlon and Intel Pentium x86-based chips address 32 bits of data. x86-64 chips can support both.

The addition of 64-bit addressing allows the chips to support larger amounts of physical memory--more than 4GB--which speeds up large database programs typically used on servers.

The announcement of DB2 support by IBM adds to AMD's arsenal of software for the new server chip. DB2 is the second most popular database software and has been growing thanks to aggressive pricing.

AMD says several other applications are in the works and will be announced in coming months.

Opteron has also enjoyed a large wave of support from Linux operating system developers, such as SuSE, which has a 64-bit Linux operating system for Opteron. Zeus Technology has also announced a Web server for Opteron.

Microsoft will also create operating system software for the chip and its desktop sibling, code named Clawhammer.

IBM and AMD will demonstrate the new version of DB2 version 8 running on a multiprocessor Opteron system with a 64-bit Linux operating system developed by SuSE at next month's LinuxWorld.